Eban Urges Spain to Play Role in Fostering Arab-jewish Peace

Abba Eban appealed last week to the leaders of Spain and the Spanish people to use their unique position as a member of the European Community and a bridge to the Arab world to play a constructive, if indirect, role to improve prospects for peace in the Middle East.

“Spain should ask itself, as the cradle where Jews and Arabs coexisted, it if does not have a conciliatory role to play,” Eban said at a news conference here following a meeting with King Juan Carlos Thursday, the last day of his three-day visit to Spain.

Eban, a Labor member of the Knesset and chairman of its foreign affairs and security committee, met Nov. 25 with Prime Minister Felipe Gonzalez and Defense Minister Narcis Serra and addressed groups of Spanish parliamentarians, journalists and business leaders.

Spain established diplomatic relations with Israel in 1986, the last Western European country to do so. It made the move after becoming a member of the European Economic Community.

TERRITORY FOR PEACE

In his conversations with Spanish leaders and at his public appearances, Eban, an outspoken dove, stressed Israel’s need to trade occupied territory for peace. “We have not found a solution to the need of exercising domination over another nation,” he told reporters.

Eban said some alteration of Israel’s pre-1967 borders would be necessary “in order not to include Arabs in Israeli sovereign territory.” He said the territories relinquished by Israel in exchange for peace would become part of a Palestinian-Jordanian state. He also said he favored an international conference for Mideast peace.

Eban, who was foreign minister of Israel from 1966-1974, spoke out on behalf of a major political opponent, Commerce and Industry Minister Ariel Sharon, whose planned visit to Spain was canceled by the Spanish government last month because of Sharon’s role in Israel’s invasion of Lebanon in 1982 when he was defense minister.

Eban said he discussed the matter with Spanish officials and hoped the visit would be rescheduled “in the near future.”

Speaking at a luncheon at the Club Siglo XXI, a private organization that fosters political debate, Eban suggested that Spain examine its parallels with Jewish history to better understand Israel, a country of which many Spaniards are sharply critical. “Both peoples have known tyranny and appreciate democracy.” he said.

NEXT STORY